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Technology Tip

Technology Tip
Dave Pelland has extensive experience covering the business use of technology, networking and communications tools by companies of all sizes. Dave's editorial and corporate experience includes more than 10 years editing an electronic technology and communications industry newsletter for a global professional services firm.

Small Business Marketing Automation

Small Business Marketing Automation

Small business owners recognize the importance of marketing and customer relations to the growth of their companies, but the details of tracking your most attractive prospects are easy to overlook while you’re trying to run your operations effectively.

Marketing automation goes beyond email campaigns by applying intelligence to blend email with phone calls, text messages, social media outreach and other connections to help you and your sales team target the best leads effectively while maintaining profitable relationships with existing customers.

Integrated Solution

Although email will likely remain a cornerstone of your marketing efforts, automation software increases the efficiency of your campaigns by integrating customer outreach with your ecommerce and customer relationship management (CRM) tools to provide real-time insights into customer behavior, and to drive actions using if/then logic.

For instance, if someone abandons a shopping cart before completing an order, the marketing automation software can automatically send an email asking if they have questions or need help.

Similarly, if a customer makes a purchase, that can trigger a series of emails such as confirming their delivery details, a follow-up message asking how they like their purchase, another message asking for a review or testimonial, then a discount on their next order.

This sequence, sent automatically over a two- or -three-week period, helps increase customer engagement and satisfaction without someone on your team have to send these messages individually.

The software can automatically send sales- and service-related emails, promotional offers, social media links, and other targeted messages based on where customers and prospects sit in your sales funnel and the actions they’re taking.

Marketing automation software also allows provides message templates you can customize easily to reflect your company and branding. Some also allow you to optimize message delivery for specific segments, such as dribbling a message to customers in different several time zones so it arrives in the early morning.

You may also be able to adjust message delivery to accommodate specific customers. For example, if a good customer typically opens messages on a weekend morning, automation software can time her message to arrive when she’s most likely to open it and take the desired action.

Marketing automation software providers offer versions customized to small and medium businesses, often with industry-specific content modules to make it easier to get started. The software is typically cloud-based, giving you the flexibility to choose a platform that’s right for you company’s needs while still supporting you as you grow.

Features to Consider

While features may vary among providers, key to any automation effort will be tracking customer-related activity such as calls, orders, emails, meetings, any maintenance needs, or other factors that can help drive satisfaction and additional sales.

Other tools to look for include:

  • Lead scoring. By applying metrics such as whether someone opens messages, clicks links and visits your company website, you can help identify stronger prospects
  • Email result tracking. This includes open rates, click rates, orders placed and other key metrics
  • Return-on-investment of specific campaigns
  • A/B split testing. What’s the best headline for an email? Does one offer perform better than another? Testing segments of your list with different offers can help you answer those questions
  • Customer segmentation. Customers who open messages or purchase frequently can receive different messages, using a different pace, then customers with low open or response rates.

Automating these marketing functions will help your sales team optimize its targeting and, ultimately, your company’s performance.


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